Taliban defy Nato appeal to surrender

US marines carry their equipment at a company operation base in Afghanistan's Helmand province (AFP)

Nato commanders urged the Taliban to surrender as troops dug in yesterday for a major assault on a key insurgent stronghold in southern Afghanistan, sending thousands of residents fleeing.

The Taliban remained defiant as civilians of the Marjah plain accused the militia, which is leading an eight-year insurgency, of massing fighters and arms for a bloody battle in Helmand province expected to start this week.

Taliban fighters "prefer to stay and fight", Yousuf Ahmadi, a purported Taliban spokesman, told AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location.


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